August 12th, 2010

monkey pirate

Scott Pilgrim vs. Apathy

I saw a screener of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World last night. I was primed to love this movie - it being about a nerdy guy who has to fight his dream-girl's "League of Evil Exes". It's by a director I really like (Shaun of the Dead, Peepshow, Hot Fuzz) and blends video games, nerdy obsessions, and music. Stylistically it's note-perfect, and the script is snappy and funny. It discovered a lot of awesome in its ramblings - but it is rambling, the pace is stuttering.

Ultimately though, I didn't really like Scott Pilgrim, or his dream girl, Ramona. Scott is utterly self-absorbed, who really doesn't have anything to talk about with any of his female conquests other than himself. He treats his bandmates in Sex Bob-omb like vassals who exist to reflect his glory, and he badly dogs the one really sympathetic character, Knives Chau the girl he is dating when he meets Ramona. Ramona is no winner, either - who plays the hipster-chick aloof card early, often, and only. She's too cool for absolutely everybody, probably even herself...which at first seems quirky and cute but rapidly gets old.

Visually, Scott Pilgrim reads like a nerd - Michael Cera (who has aged out of nerdy-cute and into nerdy-weird) is skinny, gawky and awkward as per the usual. But he's no nerd - he effortlessly seduces girls and has a long trail of exes of his own. He knows crazy martial-arts-fu complete with mad special effects, but he doesn't work at it. Nor can he be bothered to practice the bass or rehearse with his band.

It's adapted from a graphic novel, and the director takes what's best about the comic genre and uses it. There are constant interesting design elements, carefully framed shots with beautiful and stark contrasts, and an overall composition that speaks volumes of how particular everything that appears on screen is chosen, polished, and placed. Every thing from t-shirt emblems to architecture is note-perfect.

So at the end of the day - I liked the movie a lot, which is light-hearted, fun and scrappy. But I didn't like the main characters anywhere near as much as I did the supporting cast, who were all fun, though each in a one-note kind of way. If you're into video games or indie music, I'm sure you'll like it. If you're into self-absorbed jerks, you'll REALLY like it.
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